Ebrahim Norouzi & Arash Norouzi
On March 19, 1953, Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh delivered what would become his last radio address for Norouz, the ancient celebration of Spring’s arrival and start of Persian New Year.
With just two more days left in the year 1331 [Persian Calendar], the anxious nation listened intently as Mossadegh’s fatherly voice came through their radio speakers. He wished everyone a happy Norouz, and asked them to stand firm in the face of current hardships. The pursuit of freedom from British exploitation had come at a heavy price, causing economic stress and uncertainty in the country.
On April 6, 1953, Mossadegh gave his detailed radio report on the state of the nation. His 90 minute address mainly focused on the government’s overall accomplishments in the previous year and as yet unsuccessful efforts to resolve the oil nationalization dispute. There was also a warning. “Britain is counting on acts of treason by a limited number of Iranians who support them at the expense of Iran and the interests of the people”, he said. “These elements are intent on returning to power and resolving the oil issue to British satisfaction.” Mossadegh added that he had no intention of resigning, as “it would be tantamount to a treacherous act against the nation.”
The timing of the speech was critical, for only a few weeks earlier, he had been set up for an ambush by a number of conspiring enemies. The events of No’he Esfand (February 28, 1953) comprised what was essentially a ruse intended to lead the Premier into the hands of a seething mob calling for his death. Participants included the Shah, members of the royal court, disgruntled generals, clerics such as Ayatollah Kashani and Behbehani, and, allegedly, U.S. Ambassador Loy Henderson, whom Mossadegh concluded was definitely involved due to his highly unusual behavior prior to the attack. Mossadegh only narrowly escaped with his life on that day.
Each Persian New Year, the royal ceremony of Salaam-e-Norouzi was held at the Shah’s palace, where many dignitaries and officials came to greet the monarch. Yet in 1953, to express his profound disappointment with the Shah, and as a matter of personal security, Mossadegh broke the tradition and refused to attend. After No’he Esfand, Mossadegh never again met with the Shah, either during his premiership or thereafter.
In his memoirs, Mossadegh explained: “...from No’he Esfand on, I never went to the palace. Several times the acting court minister, Mr. Abolghasem Amini, spoke with me and wanted me to have an audience [with the Shah], or for his Highness to meet with me at the house of my son Dr. Gholam-Hossein, which was located between my house and the private palace. I, however, did not consent to it. I did not go to the palace for the possibility that some members of royal guards may decide to shoot at me on the false notion that I was the one who had forced the Shah to leave the country [in No’he Esfand] ....I also considered the visiting of his Highness to my house or my son’s an act below his dignity...”
At the end of his radio address, Mossadegh expressed his hope that: “with the everlasting blessing of Almighty God upon Iran and with unity and harmony, our dear nation will overcome all their current difficulties.”
Yet two days earlier, on April 4th, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announced that the U.S. government had given up trying to suggest negotiable ways of resolving the oil issue.
They had another plan in mind.
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